If you read my post talking about food intolerances and intolerance testing, you will know that my nutritionist discovered that I was Magnesium deficient. Magnesium plays an integral part in keeping us healthy and our biochemistry in balance. Magnesium, along with calcium, potassium, chloride, and sodium are all electrolytes, needed for our brain, nerves, heart, eyes, immune system, and muscles to function. When magnesium levels are optimal in our body, we thrive. When we are magnesium deficient, it throws our perfectly balanced biochemistry out of balance, and can cause a whole host of health problems.
Often one of the most overlooked nutrient deficiencies is magnesium deficiency, and that is a serious problem because your body needs magnesium to accomplish 300 incredibly important biochemical reactions. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, so if you are deficient (like 50 to 90 percent of us are)—then you are probably feeling some symptoms!
There are four main reasons most of us are low in magnesium:
- Poor nutrition
- Medications that deplete magnesium (such as antibiotics)
- Soil depletion
- Chronic gut problems (e.g., leaky gut syndrome), which compromise magnesium absorption
While these are fairly common issues and not always a sign of magnesium deficiency, here are some the things that can happen when you’re lacking in magnesium.
1. Adrenal fatigue
As someone who has personally struggled with fatigue (although not adrenal fatigue) , I can attest to magnesium’s role in calming stress levels and rehabbing hormones. Magnesium helps to regulate cortisol levels, allowing for more balanced hormone production.
2. Anxiety or depression
3. Chronic fatigue syndrome
A study published in the revered medical journal Lancet found that out of hundreds of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, half of them were deficient in magnesium, and magnesium injections of 580 mg saw improvements of their symptoms.
4. High blood pressure
Studies have shown that people who supplemented with magnesium were able to lower their blood pressure levels by up to 12 points.
5. Heart problems
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that a lower level of magnesium intake increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 50 to 80 percent. In a different double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people received either magnesium or a placebo for one year. For one month, the magnesium group received 6,000 milligrams of magnesium orotate, and 3,000 milligrams of magnesium orotate for 11 months. Afterward, only 52 percent of the placebo group was still alive, compared with 76 percent of the magnesium group.
7. Migraines and other types of headaches
Half of people in the United Kingdom get at least one headache every month, and millions are debilitated by painful migraines. An estimated 50 percent of those suffering from migraines are magnesium deficient. Research has found that 60 percent of those with chronic migraines have genetic changes that decrease their body’s ability to metabolise magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels in the brain. Ionized magnesium administered through an IV significantly reduced pain within 15 minutes in more than 80 percent of patients.
8. Muscle cramps and spasms
Random spasms and cramps in your legs and other parts of your body aren’t actually random—they are the most common sign of magnesium deficiency.
9. Poor memory
MIT researchers found that magnesium plays a pivotal role in regulating brain receptors needed for learning and memory function, and that supplementing with magnesium helped clear ‘brain fog’. Magnesium can also enhance the brain’s ability to change, heal, and grow new neural pathways, which is essential to slowing down and even reversing cognitive decline.
10. Skin health
A Polish study found that people with skin allergies saw dramatic improvements in their skin with magnesium supplementation.
11. Sleep trouble
12. Weak bones
Magnesium is a key nutrient for strong, healthy bones. A randomised controlled study found that 300 milligrams of supplemental magnesium increased bone mineral content when taken for a year. Two American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studies found that the more deficient someone was in magnesium, the lower their bone density was, increasing the risk of Osteoporosis and fractures.
What to do if you suspect your magnesium is low.
If you have any signs of magnesium deficiency, talk to your doctor about getting your magnesium levels tested. If you are deficient, start adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, such as:
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
It’s really difficult to replenish your magnesium just through diet, so if you feel like you can’t possibly eat any more spinach, or are still deficient, I recommend taking a magnesium supplement. It is generally suggest to take around 500mg each day. Supplementing with magnesium is generally considered safe but can cause diarrhoea when taking too much for your body, so start at a lower dose and work your way up.
Always talk to your GP before starting to take any supplements.